With Oculus Rift out in the wild at long last, Facebook is giving us our first look at its design for a 360 video camera.
When Facebook dropped billions on Oculus, you better believe that the company meant to own the virtual reality future as a whole—not just the hardware headset. This means of course creating an entire platform for the development of virtual reality and 360 video. And so here’s the last missing piece of the puzzle: A Camera. With it, Facebook has what’s refereed to as an end-to-end solution for 360 video. You can can use Facebook to shoot the video, use Facebook software to process the video, and later, you can use Facebook, via the website or the Rift headset to play it back. This is very similar to what Google did last year with its Jump platform, which include its own gnarly 360 camera designs, processing software, and playback mediums (Cardboard and YouTube).
The new camera looks sleek and futuristic from the photos, but it’s an open source design so presumably the ideas people come up with might look something different. At its core, it’s very similar to designs that we’ve seen from everybody from Nokia to Lytro to Jaunt: Its an array of many cameras arranged such that the images from each can be stitched together into a spherical image. In this case, it’s a 17 camera rig: 14 cameras around in a ring, one fisheye pointing up, and two fisheyes pointing down.
Facebook says it plans to post the plans for the rig on Github this summer.